JT Van Zandt

Coastal Texas Fly Fishing Guide

A bonafide conservationist, woodworker and fly fisherman, JT Van Zandt has always been driven by the desire to appreciate and experience nature to the fullest. JT has been captivated by fly fishing his whole life, first becoming an official guide in 1993, and carpentry, particularly the construction of boats, was well suited to his lifestyle and passion for exploring the outdoors.

After moving from Austin to Rockport, Texas in 2012, JT successfully made the switch to being a full-time fly fishing guide. He now lives comfortably near the water with his wife and two young sons while taking customers out to fly fish five days a week. After experimenting with a few lead-acid and lithium battery systems, JT recently upgraded to RELiON lithium batteries to propel his backcountry fly fishing guide business to the next level.

JT’s power system includes:

The trolling motor on JT’s Chittum Laguna Madre poling skiff is powered by one robust, long-lasting RELiON RB24V52 lithium iron phosphate battery.

Why JT switched to lithium:

“The main reason I went with lithium was to reduce the weight on my skiff. I needed a system that could reliably power me through open water but be light enough to easily float in several inches of water. My boat is made of carbon fiber and was specifically designed to be as light as possible. If I were to use a lead-acid battery bank, that would negate all of the science that went into reducing the weight of this boat. It would be like adding an anchor. My goal is to have my boat be as light as possible in order to be as remote as possible. I take people on extreme backcountry excursions to go fly fishing for very shallow water fish. The water we’re in is usually only five to six inches deep for miles on end. If the boat is weighed down with heavy lead-acid batteries, we’ll get stuck at the mouth of the creek and won’t be able to get into the marsh area.”

Why JT chose RELiON:

“RELiON batteries have become standard with Chittum skiffs, which are top of the line boats, the Ferrari of its class so to speak. The manufacturer of Chittum actually introduced me to RELiON based on his and his customers’ positive experiences with RELiON batteries. These batteries blow all of the other lithium and lead-acid batteries I’ve used on my skiff out of the water. No comparison.”

How JT's lithium system helped him challenge his limits:

“I’m able to explore further and for more hours on end with my customers. I never worry about whether I’ll be stranded or what type of water I can or can’t traverse. The focus is entirely on the experience of fly fishing and appreciating nature. I now have the reliable power I need in an ultralight package to enable the best possible backcountry fly fishing experience for my customers five days a week.”

JT’s advice for people considering switching to lithium batteries:

“Weight is everything. It’s a dream to have such a dependable, lightweight and worry-free power system to fuel your adventures.”

JT Van Zandt